“Me-Too” Innovations Aren’t Evil

Does this sound familiar? “Innovate!”, “Differentiate!”, “Revolutionise!”, “Disrupt!”, “Shake things up!”, “Don’t be a me-too product!”

But “me-too” products and or/ services are just fine.

It’s about taking what works best and improving on it. It has so many things going for it:

  • Unlike the usual innovation process, it is measurable and results-driven, as you have reference points and strengths and weaknesses right under your nose
  • It is usually quick to bring to market
  • You can optimise success by minimising risks, time and resources
  • It’s a winning formula as a starting point for more disruptive ideas. In essence, you do not start with the unknown and uncertainty that carries high risk. Instead you begin your journey on a successful footing.

Examples of “me-to” innovations

“The iPod was not the first digital-music player; nor was the iPhone the first smart phone or the iPad the first tablet. Apple imitated other’s products but made them more appealing. The pharmaceutical industry is split between inventors and imitators. Some inventors, such as Pfizer, have joined the me-too crowd, starting generic drugs businesses themselves. The multi-billion-dollar category of supermarket own-label products is based on creating me-too versions of well-known brands…Ray Kroc, who built McDonald’s, copied White Castle, inventor of fast-food burger joint” (The Economist, 12th May, 2012).

You need competition

Don’t drop an idea as soon as you find out somebody else is already doing it. This is actually a good sign. In fact, no competition means you have to build the category single-handedly, which can take a lot of time and investment. There are more chances to disrupt an existing space than to create a brand new one.

So if you feel you can create a product in a crowded space you are familiar with, and you can make it even slightly better than the existing ones – go for it.

Closing Thought

People tie themselves up in knots about the term ‘innovation’. Innovation is significant positive change. It’s a result. It’s an outcome. It’s something you work towards achieving. If you are successful at solving important problems, you are an innovator. The smallest changes to a product can have a massive impact on consumers lives, and that is ultimately the game we are all playing.